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Casting off the shackles

28 February 2021 - 00:00 By tanya farber

In the peak of summer in 1834 a slave named Sabina watched through the window as an official-looking man in a top hat arrived at the house where she worked. He announced he was there to do a "slave valuation" and took down the bare details of her life. She was 48 years of age, F for female, and worked as a housemaid in the Cape District in the Cape Colony. In the Somerset District, the labourer recorded only as Maart was also inscribed into the records. The man wrote "age 22" in his book and the value attached to Maart was 150 pounds...

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